I recently asked a teen age white male when, if ever, does he get an opportunity to interact with black people. He responded that during community service is the only time that he is able to interact with black people. Meaning, he's the one serving Blacks who are in need.
|Members of the 2015 Ambassadors ready to serve on L.E.A.D.'s adopted segment |
of the Atlanta Beltine at Washington Park on MLK Day.
I know this young man really well and he is an amazing individual. I believe that the danger with his statement is that he could develop a negative bias towards Black people as he enters adulthood. He could have the mindset that Black people are always in need and can only advance or do better when White people offer help. Without strong core values, bias can turn into racism. Thankfully, this young man has a strong set of core values and a heart for human beings.
But consider the narratives we read everyday that are written by way of statistics as it relates to Black inner-city Atlanta youth:
There are 50,000+ students in Atlanta Public School
80% of those students live at or below the poverty level
80% of Georgia prison inmates are comprised of youth that come from Atlanta zip codes 30310, 30315 and 30318
|Ambassadors complete monthly service projects that instill in them a |
sense of belonging and investment in their community.
Those stats portray a group of people who don't have a chance of having a great life, right? I mean, if you had to draft an All-Star team made up of the individuals who these stats speak of, could you draft a winning team?
Absolutely you could! As a matter of fact, I have drafted such a team and I call them Ambassadors. The statistics above are positioned to speak of their futures, but through L.E.A.D., we are helping them create new statistics. Numbers like these: to date, 100% of L.E.A.D. Ambassadors graduate from high school, 95% enroll into college and 92% receive college scholarship opportunities. We are creating new narratives with these new statistics, so we can begin to plant a positive bias in society as it relates to young Black males.
We value things and people by the way they are presented to us. I know with the recent controversy associated with Bill Cosby, folks are trying to steer clear of any associations with him. I am neither judge nor jury on the issues facing Mr. Cosby's life at this time and I can't forget the many life lessons that The Cosby Show taught me. One of which has to do with value.
Remember when Vanessa, came home from college and she brought Dabnus home with her? If you recall, she brought him there under false pretenses: he was just a boyfriend from school. The truth finally came out and it was revealed that Dabnus was more than just her boyfriend, he was her fiance. During the "come to Jesus meeting" between Dr. Huxtable and Dabnus, Dr. Huxtable shared that he thought Dabnus could be a porterhouse steak quality of a guy, but the problem was that Vanessa introduced him to the family on a trashcan lid. Now who wants to eat a porterhouse steak, grilled to perfection, off of a trashcan lid? No one.
That's what's happening to Black youth in Atlanta and across the country. The stats that are being pounded into our consciousness every day through media and other forms of propaganda are presenting our young men, who have amazing potential, on filthy trashcan lids. Through the Ambassadors, we are working to positively raise the profile of young Black men in Atlanta so that the world can see their true promise - educated, civically-engaged, compassionate youth who will grow up to be excellent citizens, husbands and fathers.
As we search ourselves on this Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, let us ask these questions:
What biases do I have?
How often do I interact with people from other races on a personal level?
Is racism a problem for me?
Do I find it difficult to have conversations about race?
Am I an asset to my neighborhood, city, state, country?